This past weekend I went camping with a few families at North South Lake campgrounds in the catskills. The weather was horrible minutes before we arrived and moments after we left, but it was glorious for the bulk of our stay.

I took off from work and packed the car like a sardine. I have six kids and we tend to bring a lot of stuff. Still, there is definitely plenty of room for optimization. I bought a new, larger, tent this year. It’s a Mountain Hard Wear Habitat 5. I like Mountain Hard Wear tents because they are durable and seem to be made well. I brought along my 4-person Mountain Hard Wear tent and that’s where I think I could have optimized more. Two tents is nice because it allows us to separate my three boys from my daughter so she can get some sleep. But she’s 3 and a half now and it’s probably not necessary. Plus, setting up and breaking down 3 tents is onerous. So, next trip I’m only bringing  the Habitat 5 if the whole family goes. If I go on a separate trip with the boys, I’ll bring the Trango 4.

We also have a tupperware bin we put all of our cooking supplies. I think we can shrink that. I also think the boys could use bigger, higher-quality sleeping bags cause they said they were cold. One thing we did invest in for this trip were self-inflatable mats. These things are awesome, compact, and comfortable. I almost thing they are more comfortable than a full air mattress.

My friend John and Joe are both musicians so they brought their guitars. They did plenty of songs Friday night. John wrote a little about this on his blog and wound up being inspired to buy a new guitar this week. Joe also played a bunch on Saturday while the kids went to the beach and we just sat and drank beer. We had just come from a late-morning hike up the mountain so we were hungry and thirsty. I had brought a selection of india pale ales, guinness, and some other hoppy beverages to share. I wound up bringing “just enough” as I had one left by the time I left. I gave  this bottle, a Southampton Publick House India Pale Ale, to my friend John who left a little later than me.

The rain and traffic were heavy on the way home. The trip took us a little over 5 hours with an hour stopover for some lunch. I was happy to be home. I had the kids help unpack the car assembly-line fashion and we got that job done in 20 minutes. I aired out all of our wet supplies and folded them nice and compact for storage over the winter. When we were done, it was about 7:30 and the kids and I rented Dragonball on the Apple TV. Lisa had already fallen asleep because she had a bad chest cough most of the weekend and was feeling rather ill. She must have gotten enough sleep, though, since she was totally recovered the next day.

I have lots of pictures, but can’t find the cable or card reader I need to process them on the computer. I’ll have to spend some time soon to locate those. All in all, it was one of the best camping trips I can remember.